Constitutional scholar apparently needs to brush up on Constitution


Look, I know the guy’s a centrist, OK? I know he’s not the Messiah. But I’m still quite disappointed:

In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government’s legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping efforts.

In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by a civil liberties group, the Justice Department argued that the government was protected by “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits because of a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act. The government’s legal filing can be read here (PDF).

For the first time, the Obama Administration’s brief contends that government agencies cannot be sued for wiretapping American citizens even if there was intentional violation of U.S. law. They maintain that the government can only be sued if the wiretaps involve “willful disclosure” — a higher legal bar.

The text above is from an article by Raw Story’s John Byrne.

I didn’t expect Obama to do the right thing on the war(s), or to be some great progressive leader. But I did expect him to at least break with the Bush administration when it came to respecting the basic tenets of the Constituion and U.S. law. Apparently that faith was misplaced. Sad.

By the way, if you want to help the Electronic Frontier Foundation do its good work in this and other cases, visit their Web site and toss them some money.